GEORGETOWN, Nov 30 – Important issues such as the nation’s rising debt or the cost of living were not brought up at the just-concluded Umno general assembly because the Malay party’s leaders were more interested in playing the race card, DAP said today. Its secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said Umno showed its “true face” at the assembly when it ignored issues that Malaysians were concerned about.
“It was not 1Malaysia, it was Tipu Malaysia,” Lim said at the Selangor DAP Convention held at the Petaling Jaya Civic Centre. He told Selangor DAP delegates that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had steadily broken all of his promises. “Instead of repealing the Sedition Act 1948 as promised, he not only said the Act would be retained, but it would be strengthened and amended.
“Although Najib did not specifically say the Sedition Act would be used to nab more opposition leaders, we know better from experience,” Lim said. He was referring to the slew of opposition figures charged or being investigated under the Sedition Act this year for various reasons. Lawmakers such as Batu MP Tian Chua, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, Padang Serai MP N. Surendran, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad and Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli have all run afoul of the Sedition Act.
Also hauled up were former Perak menteri besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, Seri Delima state assemblyman R.S.N Rayer and University Malaya law professor Azmi Sharom. “Umno is capable of using various tactics in order to strengthen its grip on power. We know the Sedition Act 1948 is a weapon to be used against dissenters,” Lim said.
He said the Bible-burning threat by Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali was a serious incident, yet it went unpunished by Putrajaya. “Look at the baseless allegation made by Baling Wanita Umno chief Datuk Dr Mashitah Ibrahim who claimed that Chinese in Kedah burnt the Quran in a prayer ritual. “Her speech was intended to incite racial hatred and ill will among the Malays in the northern state against the Chinese,” Lim said, adding Mashitah had not apologised.”
Therefore, Lim said, how could the people trust Najib or Umno or Barisan Nasional. When Putrajaya says it is going to fight corruption, could it be trusted, he asked. “Nothing was mentioned about corruption or the price of oil, which has dropped to US$68 per barrel, or the fact that 88% of households in Malaysia have no savings.”
Lim said economic issues should be given first priority by Umno, but its delegates and leaders preferred to focus on racial issues and retaining the Sedition Act. He praised Selangor DAP chairman Tony Pua for raising questions on the controversial sovereign fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). “Pua has made history by becoming the first opposition lawmaker to be sued by Najib,” Lim said, to applause from the delegates.
“Najib’s case against Pua will be historic as it is the first time in Malaysian history that a prime minister is filing a legal suit against an opposition lawmaker.” On November 21, Najib issued a letter of demand to Pua, who is Petaling Jaya Utara MP, over the alleged defamatory remarks against the prime minister on November 3 about 1MDB which caused him “tremendous stress and embarrassment”.
In the letter from Najib’s lawyer, Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun, Pua was told to publish a retraction and apology within 14 days in two national newspapers or face legal action for his speech recorded in the November 3 video titled “Tony Pua: Najib is creating the biggest scandal ever in the history of Malaysia”.
Pua was also told to remove the video from the Internet, stop further defamatory statements, and pay Najib for damages over his remarks. The letter said Pua had claimed in the video that Najib was incompetent in managing the country; had conspired against the nation; was corrupt; had robbed and misused the people’s monies; and abused his power as a political and party leader.